Before joining Facebook as a Solutions Engineer I had many questions about what the role implied and if it was a good fit for me. After almost one year into the role I wanted to share more about what we do and inspire you.
I had been working as a software engineer for 10+ years, mainly building web applications. I was starting to feel that I didn’t enjoy dedicating 100% of my time to code, and wanted to understand why I was building what I was building.
What kind of metrics was I trying to move? How did I validate that the project was successful? How did I iterate on it once the initial version was shipped? And, especially, how could I propose and drive projects that I thought could be valuable to the company?
I wanted to apply technology to solve business problems, and move away from seeing technology as a goal itself.
I had never heard of the “Solutions Engineer” role, but when people at Facebook described it to me it was clear what gaps it was trying to solve.
Having worked previously building public APIs I felt that disconnection between consumers (partners, small and large developers) and internal teams. Advocating for a technology can get you somewhere, but if you are not able to address consumer’s feedback, identify opportunities and test them, then you won’t get far.
Solutions Engineer partner with companies that advertise on Facebook (Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Whatsapp) and help them make sound decisions on their technical integration. This goes all the way from how they setup basic events on their website to know what actions users are performing during a purchase flow, to fully automate campaigns with dynamic creatives, audiences and bidding.
Best of all is that Solutions Engineers are engineers. This might seem obvious from the role title, but it holds true on a daily basis. We identify business opportunities that can’t be addressed with our current tools, create proposals, validate them by building them ourselves, and scale. We are the ones closest to the advertiser and the best to help product teams making their projects succeed with real customers.
Most of my colleagues have created their own companies or have worked as CTOs. And in practice, one would say we act sometimes as mini-CTOs inside the teams working with advertisers. We care about the advertiser’s challenges (eg increase brand awareness, sell more products, increase gross margin, reduce churn of users) and help out using our tools.
We are not told what to do and it is expected that we pull help from product teams, design, or marketing to propose and drive projects. And ultimately, prove that it drove some measurable impact to both the advertiser and Facebook. All this while getting access to the data and tools you need to do your job keeping process at a minimum. I must say I’m greatly surprised how smooth this works at Facebook, taking into account its humongous size.
This level of freedom and trust comes with a downside. If you are used to being told what to do, then this is not an environment you will thrive at first. This can be challenging but in the long term is highly rewarding. There is the expectation that you come up with ideas, so rather than people telling you to keep yourself within your role’s boundaries, you will see colleagues supporting you all the way.
The role is very flexible and every Solutions Engineer works differently. Some are working with advertisers within a certain vertical (ecomm, retail, travel, fintech, games…), others within a certain region. For instance, I support advertisers in the Nordics across all verticals.
Each company has their own unique challenges, and the goal is to identify how our solutions are falling short and how we can improve it, without shortcuts. Evey new project adds complexity: more code to maintain, more products to support users with, a bigger surface prone to bugs. That’s why we align with other Solutions Engineers working to identify similar problems with the advertisers they work with, and help build a case for a project that doesn’t solve a specific limitation for a company, but can scale. Ultimately the tools that a large company can use to do marketing on Facebook are the same ones you and I can use.
If this sounds interesting, please reach out on Twitter or email. We have open positions for the role, including one based in Stockholm where you would work side by side with me. I’m also genuinely interested in talking with colleagues working at companies that could benefit from having a similar role, so reach out if you want to have a chat.